This Monday, June 19th, we observe the newest national holiday – Juneteenth. This federal holiday commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It commemorates the anniversary of the order on June 19, 1854 proclaiming freedom for the slaves of Texas.
This holiday is an important step in the education of our citizenry. So much has been done recently to rewrite the history of American slavery; to deny the truth that our nation was built on the backs of African slaves.
The denial of the principal of white supremacy as the underlying support for slavery is fostered in many places in the United States. Gerrymandering to reduce the power of the vote of African Americans is an attempt at the destruction of democracy.
Institutional racism continues as the “original sin” of the United States. While much work is to be done legislatively and in the courts to reduce discrimination, as important as that is, it is ultimately not the answer.
The overcoming of sin demands the process of contrition and repentance – and repentance has to do with a transformation of the way we think and the way we see.
The holiday calls all of us to recognize the sinful evil of white supremacy. The first step is always to recognize the root of the sin.
Fr. Steve Adrian